Screenshot displaying the toolbar in Microsoft Whiteboard

PPLS Learning Tech Blog: Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard

Screenshot showing the features of Microsoft Whiteboard


Multimedia application


Windows app, iOS app, browser app, Microsoft Teams integration.


Get this app while signed into your Microsoft account and install on up to ten Windows 10 devices. iOS version also available for iPhone and iPad.

You can also access Whiteboard within a web browser (Mac users will have to use this browser app).

A limited version of Microsoft Whiteboard can also be launched within a Microsoft Teams meeting.


Supports automatic or manual Alt Text. Read more here (external link)


Creativity, Productivity, Reinforce learning, Reflection, Feedback.

What is it?

Microsoft Whiteboard provides you with an interactive canvas that allows multiple users to collaborate in real time, from a number of devices, for various types of projects. Whiteboard works well for drawing, for freehand text input, and for collaborative activities.

Microsoft whiteboard provides a collaborative space where users can input text, freehand drawing or other items such as images or sticky notes. It’s a great way to provide an informal freehand/text input space for teaching or social activities.

How can I use it?

As an employee of the University of Edinburgh, you already have a Microsoft Whiteboard account. You can access it through your Office 365 account or by downloading the app (see below).

Whiteboard is also integrated into Teams: you may have already used it. If you have shared a whiteboard while using Teams, it’s probably the Microsoft Whiteboard app that you were using.

Because of this integration with Microsoft Teams, Whiteboard works particularly well for teaching or social activities which are conducted using Teams. However, you can also use Microsoft Whiteboard in other virtual classroom environments such as Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom by using the screen share feature.


Now, let’s have a quick look at some of the features of Microsoft Whiteboard.

Screenshot displaying text, mouse and stylus input

You can input directly onto the screen using a pen. Or you can type using the text tool. You can also copy and paste text in (however you are limited to this one slightly childish-looking font). You can use sticky notes which can be resized and rearranged.

Screenshot displaying a group activity using drag and drop sticky notes

You can import images and ‘pin’ them to the back so that they can be drawn on and annotated. You can also import pages from Word or pdf documents, or slides from a PowerPoint slideshow. You can also format the background to change its colour or to add a grid, or lines.

Screenshot displaying the toolbar in Microsoft Whiteboard

You can share your whiteboard either by inviting collaborators using their email addresses, or by creating a shareable link and sending this to your collaborators. You will see other users’ edits to your Whiteboard in real time. Users can ‘like’ object such as test, drawings or post-its.

Screenshot displaying the sharing options in Microsoft Whiteboard

Whiteboard is particularly well and well-suited to pen input on the screen. If you’re using a Microsoft Surface Pen or an Apple pencil or a graphics. Tablet or other form of stylus, you’ll find that the input is very smooth and intuitive, particularly in the downloadable app.

It’s worth noting that, as the desktop app does have more features than the browser app or Teams version of Whiteboard, if you are working simultaneously on a whiteboard where some users are using the desktop app and others the browser or Teams apps, some features may be lost to the non-desktop users:

For example, you only get these sparkly fonts in the desktop version:

Screenshot showing how 'sparkly' fonts appear plain in the web browser app

To get started:

Animation showing how to access Whiteboard from your Outlook email account

You can access Whiteboard through a downloadable Windows or iOS app, or via your web browser. 

Why should I use it?

Whiteboard is part of the Office365 subscription so you and your colleagues and students will automatically have an account. Unlike some 3rd party tools, Office365 is a University-approved suite of apps.

Whiteboard is perhaps best suited to more informal note-taking, or ice-breaker/brainstorming activities. It has a cheerful interface suited to colourful, chaotic activities. Other tools may be better suited for creating more structured bulletin boards or project plans. However, you could use Whiteboard for this as well.

You can save Whiteboards and return to them; for example, tutors could have a different saved whiteboard for each tutorial group, which the group returns to each session to recap the previous week’s work.

Top Tip

You don’t need everyone in a Teams meeting to install the desktop app; you can share a Whiteboard using Teams and then switch to your desktop or tablet app for input. This works particularly well if you have a tablet with stylus input such as a Microsoft Surface or iPad with Apple Pencil. Everyone else will still be able to contribute to the Whiteboard using the Teams interface.

Where can I find it?

Microsoft Whiteboard


The PPLS Learning Technology team are not responsible for any inappropriate, offensive or illegal content viewed or accessed through the tools and products reviewed. While Office 365 is licensed by the University, you must still be careful with what data you share, and with whom, when using a collaborative platform such as Microsoft Whiteboard or Teams.